SEQUIM — Since Emma “Em” Hutchins wrote the bylaws for the Sequim-Dungeness Hospital Guild nearly 47 years ago, the guild has grown and given more than $2.1 million back to the Sequim-Dungeness community, including $21,000 donated at their annual luncheon.
Among the crowd of 165 attendees on Thursday was Hutchins, who was “excited and proud” to see the organization she helped form in 1970 still going strong.
“When I look at this, I see what can happen when a group of women get together,” she said.
“There’s a lot of strength here.”
Hutchins was among a handful of women who started the nonprofit aimed at raising funds to support community health and educational organizations.
Among the recipients have been Clallam County Fire District No.3, Olympic Medical Center, Peninsula Community College’s School of Nursing, Dungeness Valley Health & Wellness Clinic and scholarships to local students for medical and emergency medical technician training.
The guild gathers funds throughout the year through its all-volunteer thrift shop on Second Avenue and Bell Street, the Cards for Cardiacs program and memorials, donations and membership dues.
Active membership varies but is now at 78, said Addie Curtis, Sequim-Dungeness Hospital Guild publicity chairman.
“With the donation this May of $21,000 our total to date given back to the Sequim medical community will be $2,055,000,” she said.
The $21,000 donation was split evenly among the Dungeness Valley Health & Wellness Clinic, Olympic Medical Center — for the purchase of a transport monitor — and Peninsula Community College for the nurse scholarship program.
“Without organizations like this one, we wouldn’t be able to provide the services that we do for this community,” Rose Gibbs, Dungeness Valley Health & Wellness clinic director, said as she thanked the guild for its ongoing support.
Guild President Jean Janis noted the annual luncheon held at 7 Cedars Casino sold out weeks before the event — and said it is reflective of the community’s support of the guild.
Every time new customers visit the Thrift Shop, they’re always “thoroughly amazed” at the guild’s accomplishments, Janis said, who is going into her 11th year as president.
Per tradition, guild members and Thrift Shop volunteers host a fashion show, modeling the clothing, jewelry, footwear and accessories available at the shop.
The outfits range from casual to cocktail party chic.
Coinciding with the lunch, fashion show and gift giveaway is a silent auction, also showcasing the range of items from the shop.
“Donating more than $2 million … that’s pretty amazing with just a little shop on the corner,” said Mary Nesbitt, Thrift Show chairman.
“We’re really pleased to have met that milestone.”
Because the Thrift Shop is volunteer staffed, the guild is always seeking new volunteers to help, Curtis said.
For more information about the guild, the thrift shop or to get involved, call 360-683-7044.
________Alana Linderoth is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.